Three year old, developmental or something else?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by nlmiller1975, Jan 14, 2013.

  1. nlmiller1975

    nlmiller1975 New Member

    I am sorry for this; I'm sure it's going to be lengthy. My son is now three years old, and my husband has been gone either to Iraq or Afghanistan for two of them. I know, I know, single parents do this by themselves all the time, but 1) I have no family here and I don't make friends very well, and 2) I don't work outside the home and spend pretty much 24/7 with exception to two hours one day a week with my son. Needless to say, sometimes I want to pull my hair out -- no most of the time I want to pull my hair out. Maybe what's going on developmentally normal and he's naturally testing limits; and I'm the one with the problem and not handling things better. Granted, I came from an abusive background, but I've gone to years of therapy. Just sometimes, the way he responds to things triggers things in me, and I find myself yelling and arguing with a three year old!! Or perhaps there's something wrong. When my son was born, he was the loudest baby in all of post-partum. After we got home, he pretty much wanted to be held all the time. I didn't think a ton of it as most babies like to be held a lot, but my husband was in Iraq at the time and I was exhausted. However, his intensity didn't lessen as an infant, it only increased. He was crabby the majority of the time; and his cries weren't the normal baby cries, they were intense screams.

    Sensory issues: I have found through the past three years that he doesn't like certain fabrics: He refuses to wear jeans or basically any pant that isn't fleece or really really soft cotton, shirts that have heavy embossing on the front or turtlenecks, if he's wearing long sleeves, the sleeves have to be all the way down or it drives him nuts -- same with pants. He can't stand velcro on his jacket anywhere (neck area or arms) and can't handle snaps in the neck area either (he'll scream bloody murder if someone tries to snap it) and he can't have the zipper up all the way or touching his skin, so I have to tuck a scarf in there so that I can zip it up all the way without it touching him. He cries and covers his ears if something with a siren gets too close. If the smoke alarm in the house goes off, he's almost as loud as it is. He screams like a vampire if the sun is in his eyes, so I've learned to take sun glasses with us everywhere every day regardless of weather. He used to be the same way with the wind, but it's not as bad anymore. He can't stand to have lotion put on him; in the summer it's a disaster to try to get sunscrean on him to go outside. He doesn't like for people to touch him much. He's gotten better at giving hugs; but I've learned to ask for them, and if he says no, to let it go (as it should be). Most of the time when he gives a hug, he runs up and barrels into me sometimes with his knee up like some sort of wrestling move (I never watch wrestling). He has to touch E-V-E-R-Y thing in the store when we go. When he's in gymnastics class and it's just him and a couple of other children, he listens alright, but when the class is full, he's the only child running all over the gym. (Granted, the class is for 3-5-yo's, and he just turned 3). He doesn't seem to listen to instruction too well from the teacher (or me for that matter) when she tells him to sit on his spot; and he refuses to sit on it when it's placed between or next to another boy. He sits better if it's by a girl or by himself. He says that he doesn't like "other kiddos". My fault because I've waited too long to get him into day care and he's basically an only child...? We watched How to Train Your Dragon, and in there is a point where Hiccup is looking at the dragon saying, "I will kill you, dragon." Now my son says that... said that to another child at gymnastics the other day, and says it to the sun all the time. o_O!!!!! He used to bite and hit ALLLL the time. And this wasn't just a phase that lasted a couple of months, it lasted for almost two years. I would consistently gently push his hand away if he had hit and tell him in a firm voice, "We do not hit, that hurts!" The hitting lasted from the time he could raise his arm to swing until about two and a half. The biting lasted until about the same. What ended it after months of doing this was immediately placing him in timeout, which at that time was a playpen, when he did it telling him why he was going in timeout and leaving him there for two minutes. Considering that worked with the hitting and biting, that's what makes me think that these issues may be simply me no finding the right way to discipline. Anyway, we co-slept from birth until about two because every time he woke up and I wasn't there, he would scream. Even still, he woke up every two hours until he was about two and a half to nurse. He refused to take a bottle or a pacifier, only wanted the breast, and he also has had his hands in his mouth a lot. When he was younger, when he got really frustrated, he would hit himself or flail himself onto the floor. Even today when he wakes up in the middle of the night, he calls me until I come in there to cover him back up, and if I don't go in there he will get out of bed which makes him getting back to sleep take forever. He wakes up between 5 and 6 every morning regardless of what time I put him to bed. And even when he wakes up, I know he's still tired. I can see it in his eyes, and certainly see it by the way he acts sometimes. He still takes a nap, but only if I lay with him. I have a bedtime routine that I use every night and everything happens at pretty much the same time, and he still lays in his room on his bed for an hour or more sometimes calling me over and over and over and over to tuck him back in because he can't get his blankets fixed in that perfect way again after having gotten a drink. But if I don't take the drink in there, he acts like I took away his best friend. We've battled with tooth brushing since he was an infant. At first I would hold him down and brush, but that didn't last long, so I stopped and have tried EVERYTHING since. We have about 20 toothbrushes and 8 toothpastes we've tried. We've tried brushing Mommy's teeth to the dinosaur's teeth to everything in between and him brushing his own teeth, but when it came to the toothbrush going in his mouth, it was bloody murder again. The only thing that's worked is a sticker reward chart with a trip to Chuck E Cheese along with (because just the chart wasn't working) me telling him that there are bugs in his mouth and we had to get them out. Cruel? Probably... and I'm horrible for doing it, but I was at a loss and I felt that him having to go to the dentist to get teeth removed would have been worse on him. I had to make a choice.

    Possibly somewhat obsessive: (Caveat -- I realize repetition is the name of the game for children this age, but at what point do you draw the line between repetition and obsession?) He has to have his blankets on him a certain way, every time, and it has to be the same blankets. He has this Winnie the Pooh blanket that has to go on first, and it can't cover up his feet. Then I have to put his sheet on and then his Dragon blanket.

    Behavior: He is the absolute most independent (which is great, don't get me wrong; I know it will be a massive asset when he's older) child I have ever seen. And defiant... I spend almost all day every day battling defiance and opposition whether it's in the form of racking my brain for yet another redirection or breaking down and yelling because for once for the love of MIKE I just want him to do what I'm telling him to do. I get so dad gum tired of having to creatively try to get him to do something that I'm asking him to do. And even then, half the time it's still a battle. He backtalks me all the time. "NO, I WON'T do that" or what have you. I constantly tell him that we talk nicely to each other and point out the family rules poster we created together that is in view all the time.

    I got a referral to an Occupational Therapist (OT) and had him evaluated and they determined that he had sensory issues, but did not get him an actual diagnosis, so he doesn't qualify for pre-school until 2014 because his birthday is in October. We've gone in to see the Occupational Therapist (OT) who is all of about 20, and no offense to her and we've only seen her probably four or five times, but it just doesn't seem to be going anywhere. At the last appointment she mentioned brushing and getting my son used to the idea by first doing compression before we attempt any type of brushing, but I can't even touch him really.

    I don't even talk to others about our situation anymore because they either think that I'm being too soft on him and letting him walk all over me, I don't discipline him right, or whatever else the case may be and then look at me like I'm pathetic because I'm so exhausted from having just one child. Some of these things I probably put in the wrong category, but needless to say I'm scattered. I'm trying to go to school full time albeit online, but by the time I get done with the day, every day, I'm so beat I have to drag myself to do the dishes. My house is a disaster. And not only am I physically and mentally drained, I'm emotionally beating myself up because of all of the horrible mistakes I've made throughout the day with my son. Sometimes I hate myself and feel bad for my son that he would up with me as his mom. =(((( I wish that I didn't have baggage and triggers that probably make out situation worse. I think maybe I am the one who needs some ritalin or something. I don't feel like I'm seeing him for the funny, loving, intelligent, imaginative young man that he is throughout the day because every day is such a war zone. And I feel like I only see those things when he's asleep and it's too late to tell him or express it to him.

    I'm so sorry this is so long. And for those of you who make it all the way through to the end, thank you for lending an ear and possibly giving me some advice.
  2. nlmiller1975

    nlmiller1975 New Member

    I forgot to add that when my husband is home, sometimes his (my husband's) behavior is explosive, just a loose cannon. You never know when it will go off. Something that has happened the same way 30 times and was fine is all of a sudden the end of the world and something gets broken or hit or thrown. I feel like I walk around the house trying to make things as easy as possible for him to avoid another outburst. Not a week after my husband deployed, there was a noticeable difference in my son's behavior, even other people have noticed and commented. On occasion I am so stressed trying to keep it all together that I have 2-3 menstrual cycles a month. After several EMDR sessions for myself, I have come to the conclusion that enough is enough and that I have to demand that when he gets back that something change or I will need to leave. That's just easier said than done.
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    in my opinion he needs to see a neuropsychologist. He in my opinion is not wired normally, which is not uncommon or a bad thing but he has a lot of red flags for some sort of autistic spectrum disorder, including the sensory processing disorder (SPD), the not liking hugs, the overreaction to stimuli, the outbursts, the opposition to authority...I'd definitely have him evaluated thoroughly. THIS IS NOT YOUR FAULT! He was probably born this way by your description and you can't change that by changing your parenting, although there are strategies that may help him. The first step is to do the evaluation. If it turns out he does have Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) or something similar, you may qualify for respite services so you can get a break. It is good that he is already seeing an Occupational Therapist (OT) because, even if she is very young, she has the right idea! My son had to be brushed and wore a weighted vest too. However, even if he will let you touch him, that is likely not going to be enough intervention for your little guy. He needs a diagnosis and more assistance as do you. Gentle hugs. Hope you do pursue the evaluation.
  4. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Your hubby could be under PTSD. Which means that "demanding" change may not work - it may be beyond him at that point. He will need help too.

    And then... if your difficult child is possibly on the spectrum... then maybe your husband is too. Because there is a genetic component to Aspie/Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Which makes the whole picture extremely interesting... and hard to take.
  5. nlmiller1975

    nlmiller1975 New Member

    I will look into a neuropsychologist referral from peds. Thank you for your insight and advice.

    He may be suffering from PTSD. He had a troubling childhood to say the least, as did I. However, we've been together for almost 13 years and I've begged for this behavior to stop and for him to get therapy (and he did for a couple of months half-heartedly and only because I gave an ultimatum), but it's come to a point that I can't take it anymore. It was different when it was just he and I, but now that we have our son, there's no excuse anymore. I don't want my son to be the way I have been, so I've gone through extensive therapy to change it. However, I don't want my son to be like him either. I'm trying to be sympathetic and view my husband's situation with empathy, but I just don't see how someone can behave that way (you have no idea the things that happen in our home) and him not want to change his behaviors somehow. He hasn't seen the fear in my son's eyes when he has an explosion because he's too busy exploding.
  6. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Do not be afraid to ask for a new Occupational Therapist (OT). It is not worth your time and money to be with someone who doesn't do a good job. A good Occupational Therapist (OT) is a life changer! It's awkward but if there are options, change ....either therapists Occupational Therapist (OT) clinics. Many hospitals have Occupational Therapist (OT) clinics attached.
  7. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Im sorry for everything that is going on in your life at the moment. It sounds extremely difficult. I dont think you or your upbringing have anything to do with it. We all bring baggage into our adult lives. I also had a really bad childhood and wasnt a stellar mom. I dont think I caused anything even though I may have passed on genetics.

    Your son does sound like one unhappy little boy. I would attempt to get him tested even though he is quite young. You may have a lot of problems finding someone who will test a child this young so look hard. Check Children's Hospitals. You arnt aone